Germany's lockdown proposal to 'save Christmas': What you need to know
A draft government document shows Chancellor Angela Merkel wants a partial lockdown in November to 'save Christmas'. Here's what we know so far.
Merkel is holding an emergency meeting with Germany's state leaders on Wednesday to discuss how to slow down the spread of Covid-19 throughout the country.
According to a draft document seen before the summit, Merkel is pushing for a partial nationwide lockdown that would see tough contact restrictions plus the closure of bars, restaurants and hotels. Schools and Kitas would remain open under the plans.
The idea would be for the lockdown to run for most of November in order to get some control of the situation so people can spend time with family at Christmas.
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What's the aim?
Germany is aiming "to interrupt the infection dynamics quickly so that no far-reaching restrictions are necessary during the Christmas period", according to the draft document.
"Families and friends should be able to meet each other even under corona conditions during the Christmas season. This requires a joint effort now, as was the case in spring."
A far-reaching lockdown throughout Germany would apply throughout next month (starting November 2nd until the end of the month) under the proposals.
On Wednesday the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control reported 14,964 new Covid-19 infections within 24 hours. There have been 10,183 reported deaths in Germany since the start of the pandemic.
Under the draft plans, the government wants to impose new contact restrictions. It would mean people could only meet others from one other household (or their own household) in public throughout Germany.
Celebrations or gatherings in public places or in homes would not be allowed.
Domestic tourist accommodation would be banned during the lockdown period, under the plans. It means overnight accommodation in Germany would only be offered for "necessary and expressedly non-tourist purposes".
Merkel is meeting with state premiers on Wednesday. Photo: DPA
Bars and restaurants shut
Hospitality establishments such as restaurants, bars, cafes and similar venues would close, except for deliveries and collection of food for takeaway.
Leisure facilities affected
Entertainment events would not be allowed throughout Germany for the entire lockdown period under plans.
Theatres, opera venues and concert halls would close. The closure proposal also covers recreational and amateur sports activities plus all sports facilities, including swimming pools, fitness studios and similar venues. Fairs, cinemas and amusement parks would also shut.
Schools, daycare centres and shops remain open
Schools and kindergartens should remain open, the draft states. However, states should introduce further protective measures in these areas. According to the draft, the retail trade should remain open overall, subject to conditions on hygiene, access control (thought to be one customer per 10 square metres of space) and avoidance of queues.
Beauty salons, massage facilities and tattoo shops
Due to the crisis, the federal government wants to close personal care businesses such as beauty salons, massage practices or tattoo studios for three and a half weeks in November.
Hairdressing salons, however, will remain open with the existing hygiene regulations, the document states. Medically necessary treatments such as physiotherapy should also continue to be possible.
Aid for businesses plus working from home
In view of the restrictions, the government wants to extend aid to companies and improve conditions for the badly affected economic sectors, such as the culture and events industry.
Industry, as well as small and medium-sized firms, should be able to work safely and comprehensively, the draft went on to say. Employers have a special responsibility for their employees to protect them from infections and to quickly identify infection chains.
Wherever feasible, working from home, or 'home office' as it's known in Germany, should be allowed by employers.
The elderly and other vulnerable people are to be given special protection. Rapid corona tests "should now be used quickly and as a priority in this area" so that safe contacts could be made, the draft states.
However, the special protection for people in hospitals, nursing homes and other similar facilities should not lead to complete social isolation, the government says.
Ahead of Wednesday's talks, Merkel said she understood that the coronavirus measures were asking a lot and stressed that they would only ever be temporary.
"The restrictions serve to protect our citizens and vulnerable groups in particular," she said, adding that she wanted to avoid "millions of people being excluded from society".